"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

30 April 2015

Day 26 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge: Z is for Zeugma

Z is for Zeugma


Ever since I first heard this word in my senior high school English class, I've wanted to know more. No, not really. Just kidding.

But with this being the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I can't get the word out of my mind. So, I turned to Wikipedia to discover more and wished I hadn't. But it's too late. I'm exhausted and I'm determined not to falter at the finishing line.

Zeugma is not some gross skin disease but a literary term. It originates with the Ancient Greeks (blame them) and means something like "joining or yoking together". It occurs when a word or phrase is used to join other parts of a sentence together and can add, according to one source, "confusion . . . or flavour". But I liked the example, as it comes from an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode: "You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit." Here, the word "execute" is applied to both "laws" and "citizens" but with rather shocking effect.

But zeugma can also create humour as in "The farmers grew potatoes, carrots, turnips, and bored." Here the verb "grew" joins a list of vegetables with an emotion, not your usual combination. So, zeugma yokes together different parts of a sentence for different effects. Handy literary device, eh?

Yes and no. In the hands of the amateur, a zeugma could go horribly wrong and blow up in your face, creating grammatical mayhem. Just consider this example: "Floating on the raft, Jane waved to her friend." My god, it's not clear who's on the raft, Jane or her friend. Maybe both of them or none of them. And to make matters worse, if you attempted to correct the grammar by writing two sentences as in "Jane was floating on the raft. She waved to her friend," why you'd lose the zeugma altogether (although I'm not sure where it went). So, plant your zeugmas carefully and run quickly away before they detonate.

And to make matters more tricky, there are at least 4 types of 'zeugma'. AND to frighten the pants off you . . . 'Zeugma' has its siblings: big sister 'Diazeugma'; big brother 'Hypozeugma'; and the twins 'Prozeugma' and 'Mesozeugma'. You've been warned. Maybe best not to mess with them.

Part of the "Gypsy Girl" mosaic at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum
(Oh, I forgot to mention that 'Zeugma' is also the name of an ancient Greek city, once know for its interesting 'boat bridge'.)

I admit, I doubt if I've fully or clearly explained what a 'zeugma' is and how it works, but I don't care because this is the end of the challenge and I'm fading into obscurity and sleep. My mind is buzzing and I need zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wait a minute! Why are all those zzzzzzzzz used to indicate sleep? That'll have to wait till next year's A to Z Blogging Challenge. Goodnight! ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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